Omicron BA.2: The ‘stealth’ variant could cause more ‘severe’ disease – symptoms to spot

Omicron sub-variant discussed by infectious disease expert

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Characterised by its high transmissibility, the original Omicron that appeared at the end of last year was believed to be milder compared to the previous Covid strains. However, the new subvariant Omicron BA.2 could trigger a more “severe” disease, according to a Japanese study. Here are the symptoms to spot.

The BA.2 variant has been found to cause more severe infection compared to the original Covid strain.

The findings brought by researchers at the University of Tokyo in Japan observed this in infected hamsters.

The “stealth” variant was able to cause more significant lung damage in these animal models.

The study also reported that Omicron BA.2 may be able to fend off some treatments and be more resistant to vaccine immunity.

Based on previous analysis, the Covid vaccines were found to be “effective” against serious infection, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Now, the study suggests that the “stealth” variant could escape this jab immunity.

At first, the new variant was only thought to be more infectious compared to its predecessor.

It has been rapidly spreading in Denmark and South Africa in the past few weeks.

The sub-strain has also appeared in the UK, causing nine percent of Covid cases at the beginning of February.

The researchers wrote: “In summary, our data suggest the possibility that BA.2 would be the most concerned variant to global health. Currently, both BA.2 and BA.1 are recognised together as Omicron and these are almost indistinguishable.

“Based on our findings, we propose that BA.2 should be recognised as a unique variant of concern, and this SARS-CoV-2 variant should be monitored in depth.”

The study is yet to be peer-reviewed for publication in a medical journal.

What are the symptoms of the BA.2 Omicron?

Currently, there are no new symptoms linked directly to the new Omicron variant.

However, some experts believe that BA.2 doesn’t present symptoms different from the original Omicron.

Based on the reports from doctors treating the Covid variant and patients battling it, this is the full list of symptoms:

  • Scratchy throat
  • Mild muscle aches
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Dry cough
  • Night sweats
  • Runny nose
  • Headache
  • Myalgia (muscle pain)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhoea.

The symptoms caused by the original Omicron are different from the traditional three symptoms linked to Covid infection.

Reported as cough, fever and loss or change to taste and smell, these were believed to be the main symptoms.

The NHS also lists these three as the main ones.

If you experience any Covid symptoms, you need to self-isolate and get a test, according to the health service.

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